Tuesday, May 12th, 2015. BMG: Bus routes can be a very controversial matter and we have seen bus owners take their concerns to the media many times in the Northern and Western parts of the country where the transportation industry is competitive, but down South in Punta Gorda, there are usually no disagreements such as these.
This is mostly because bus runs from the Mayan Villages into town are handled by Mayan bus owners, one or two from each village who control the public transportation in their area, and then there is the James Bus Line that takes passengers all the way up to Belize City. At first, that system had been working flawlessly, until a few weeks ago when the Mayan bus drivers began to make public accusations that the new Town Council is targeting them.
The drivers say that the Mayor, Ms. Fern Gutierrez, sent them a letter on April 22nd, 2015, stating that their new bus route and parking areas must be complied with by the deadline given, which was April 27th, only 5 working days.
Mr. Pablo Paquil, a disturbed bus owner spoke with our news correspondent in Punta Gorda and said and we quote, “my people that ride the bus are poor people; pregnant women who will now have to walk from the new bus parking area to the hospital because we are not allowed to pass the hospital anymore and even farmers who bring their produce to town to try and earn some money will be affected.
Paquil went on stating that the Mayor made an inconsiderate decision and is only dealing with the Mayan drivers, she hasn’t changed the James Bus route, she is only targeting us and the letter says that our buses are affecting the traffic flow, but other buses are allowed to drive the same routes that the mayor has stopped us from using,” end quote.
The new route also disallows the Mayan drivers from passing the University of Belize campus where a large percentage of their passengers normally stop or get on and Paquil says it’s not fair.
The drivers organized themselves and requested a meeting with the Mayor shortly after receiving the letter, a request which was granted and a conference will be held tomorrow, May 13th, at the PG Town Council conference room. Still, Paquil said the mayor gave them the run around treatment and prolonged the process, leaving the Transport Department to deal with the situation. According to Paquil, the letter he received, instructed that if he and the other drivers did not comply, they would each be slapped with a fine of $1000.
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